St. Rita Basketball Hits The Road Over Christmas Break

By: John Nee '93

While Coach Gary DeCesare’s varsity basketball team finished the holiday tournament season 2-4, they made two trips that helped the team bond and experience some sights they will never forget.       

St. Rita Basketball at Churchill Downs

Before Christmas, the team travelled to Louisville, KY to participate in the “King of the Bluegrass” holiday tournament.  The Mustangs opened the tournament on December 17 with of tough 68-56 loss to Altoona High School. Junior guard Jordan Matthews led the way for St. Rita with a career-high 32 points. 

St. Rita Jockeys at Churchill Downs




The Mustangs bounced back the next day with a strong 75-66 win over Lee High School. Senior Paul Kingsley led four Mustangs in double figures with a game-high 24 points, but St. Rita finished the tournament with a 61-54 loss to Doss High School despite 18 points from freshman Joel Watts and 16 from senior Rashaad Williams.

In Kentucky, the team visited Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, and they toured The University of Louisville where they spent time with former Mustang Tony Hicks '12, a senior member of the Cardinals basketball team.

St. Rita Basketball at University of Louisville's practice facility



After returning to Chicago for Christmas, DeCesare’s squad hopped on a plane to Miami, Florida to participate in the “Jr. Orange Bowl Classic.” While in Miami, the team attended a women’s basketball game between The University of Miami and Florida State University, and they also shared a team meal at Ray Allen’s restaurant Grown in Miami.

On the court, St. Rita opened tournament play with a 52-34 loss to Palmetto High School. The Mustangs were led in scoring by Rashaad Williams with ten points.

St. Rita Basketball team dinner at Ray Allen's restaurant Grown

Once again, in game two of the tourney, St. Rita bounced back with a solid come-from-behind 57-51 win over Coral Gables High School by outscoring the Cavaliers 32-12 in the fourth quarter. The Mustang comeback was led by three guys in double figures including Rashaad Williams with a game-high 15 points.

Coach DeCesare’s squad finished the tournament with an up-and-back affair with Mater Academy Charter High School eventually dropping a tough 69-68 decision. Senior Paul Kingsley led the way for the Mustangs with 16 points.

Ritaman and University of Louisville Cardinal Basketball Player Tony Hicks '12





Despite their record, the Mustangs played some of the top teams in Kentucky and Florida which will help to prepare them for the rugged Catholic League South schedule. Currently, the Mustangs are (6-5, 2-0) on the season as they sit on top of the CCL South standings. They will travel to Burbank tonight Friday, January 6 to battle the Vikings of St. Laurence before returning home with a key matchup next Tuesday, January 10 against the Brother Rice Crusaders. Game time for both is 7:00 p.m., with a pre-game party for grade school kids at 6:30 preceeding the January 10 game at St. Rita.